I have always wanted to document the process of making a work and it seems that instructables.com is the perfect venue. In addition to taking you through the steps of making a piece I'll show you how I use wood veneers.
Step 1: Tools and Materials List
Snap-off blade cutting knife
Scalpel with #11 blades
24 inch or longer cork-backed straight edge and ruler
Mechanical pencil or a well sharpened number 2 pencil
Pony clamp or other spring action clamp
Seamless cutting mat
1/2 and 1 inch bristle brush
Burnishing tools: bone or horn folders
Weights such as a paper covered bricks
Wood veneer - I use a Lenderink (http://www.woodveneers.net/paperwood.html) product called Paperwood or Wood paper. It is a micro thin veneer
Starched cheesecloth (tarletan) (http://www.printmaking-materials.com/products/intaglio)
Japanese rice paper
150 grit sandpaper
400 grit wet/dry sandpaper
White or cream color 4 ply Museum Board
Elmer's glue, SOBO brand or other white flexible glue
1/8 inch book binder's board
Step 2: Deciding on the Design
The work I am making for this instructable will also have an opening or recessed chamber in the center.
It may be a bit of a stretch to call this a book although it will eventually have "pages" and a "cover."
Step 3: Creating the Recess
This work has a certain amount of asymmetry to it so I have decided that the the center shape will have a similar organic quality . The piece I've cut out will become the floor of the chamber, so it is not thrown away. Also, I have found that it is best to apply the veneer to this part before moving on. After the chamber walls have been created it is much harder to accurately cut the veneer to fit. I always use a brush to apply the glue, then using a bone folder, I burnish the veneer to insure a tight bond. Then I trim away the excess.
Once this part has been veneered I can create the walls. To do this, I take the veneered base and roll it along a piece of museum board to get an idea of its circumference. I then cut the strip of board with grain running so that the museum board "curves" easily. Any place where the the turns are tight I cut a few score lines to ease them. I then dry fit, and adjust as necessary. Then I brush on the glue, join the pieces together, and then brace till dry.
Step 4: Completing the Recess
Before I glue the two pieces together I am going to trace the front board onto the the backside of a piece of wood veneer. That way I'll have an accurate template of the shape of the recessed area and later it will be much easier to veneer the front of the work.
White glue is all I use for this step. It is a butt joint though and therefore not too strong, so I'll reinforce all the interior joints with 1 inch wide strips of the tarletan. I use one strip to reinforce the wall of the chamber to the front board and then another strip to reinforce the floor of the chamber.
Tarletan is that starched cheesecloth product mentioned in the materials list and it works great to reinforce the joints. I suppose you could use hot glue, but white glue is flexible after it is dry and because paper is always "moving" relative to humidity, I don't use hot glue for my work.
Let dry. Before veneering the side walls of the chamber, I will use a vinyl spackling to fill in any rough areas and then lightly sand. Because I use vinyl spackling, I always wear a mask when sanding.
Once that is complete, I can go ahead and veneer the wall of the chamber. I cut the veneer a bit wider and longer than the interior wall and then dry fit the width, cut, and then after gluing in place, sand and/or trim away the height until it is flush with the face of the piece.
Step 5: Joining the Side Walls to the Front
Sharper curves may need a little scoring with a cutting knife to ease the turns.
Glue into place and brace and weigh down until dry. After the joint is dry, I'll reinforce it with the tarletan strips and then glue some scrap pieces of book board inside the wall flush to the top to support the back panel when it gets glued on.
Step 6: Joining the Back to the Side Walls
After the piece dried, I sanded the walls and edges to create a smooth surface.
Step 7: Veneer the Back
Then I sanded as necessary.
Step 8: Veneer the Sides
This time I brushed glue directly on the side wall, a little at a time, then attached and adjusted the strip as I went along.
After it is in place, again I burnished the veneer to insure good contact and then trimmed or sanded away any excess.
Step 9: Veneer the Front
I brushed glue on the back of the veneer, aligned it to the opening, burnished into place, then trimmed and sanded all.
I let the piece dry for a few hours before applying any sealers. I always use water based urethanes. They are easy to clean up, and safe to use in my apartment. I usually apply 2 coats sanding with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper between coats. In this case I am using a satin finish Minwax product and for ease of use, I decanted it into a glass jar. I always use a foam brush to apply urethane.
Step 10: The Completed Piece
Thanks for looking.